Texas Senate gives tentative approval to eliminate one-punch voting in Texas

As one of only nine states with the option to vote a straight-party ticket, Texas is taking steps to eliminate the option and become more like the rest of the nation.

House Bill 25, which would eliminate the option tentatively passed the Senate Wednesday afternoon in a 20-10 party-line vote, gathering critiques from Democrats that removing this tactic would make it harder to vote.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, referenced the massive size of the Harris County sample ballot to explain why not having a one-punch option would create a challenge for voters.

"The sample ballot is frankly about the size of this desk," Garcia said. "[One-punch voting] makes it easier for seniors or people with eyesight issues."

She said without this one option, voters will have to vote in each individual race, of which there are often up to 100 within Harris County, creating the possibility of longer lines. Garcia said this could deter voter turnout.

She also said by the time a person makes his or her way from the top of the ballot, or the president's race, to the bottom, to local elections, there is likely to be a lot of drop-off in voting.

The Senate's sponsor of the bill, Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, said the measure is designed to bring attention to all races, not just the well-publicized ones.

Hancock said he hopes voter turnout increases and if lines do become longer, election authorities can add additional polling places or voting booths.

In the 2016 presidential election, more than 60 percent of Texans voted through the straight-ticket method, with about the same percentage voting Republican and Democrat.

HB 25 faces one final vote before passing the Senate. If it does the pass the Senate, it will likely proceed to the governor's desk for his signature or veto.


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